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Heart of the Wounded - Chapter 7

Heart of the Wounded – Chapter 7

Zuko stopped by occasionally to see Iroh. He started to accept Wolf for who he was, not for any other reason.

Wolf was getting anxious. During the day they had to stay inside incase someone knew them by picture. Being cooped up was not Wolf’s idea of a good time.

“I think I want to leave this place,” Wolf started again. He had been saying that while pacing for three weeks.

“You could easily leave, Wolf.”

“Yeah. But where…? Where to go?”

Iroh remained quiet, examining the diagram on the table. He had been trying to set up a pai sho board. No matter what he did, it just didn’t look right.

“Hm…I don’t want to go back to that group…They have enough on their plate without me being around…” He laughed a little as he thought. “I wish I had a map…that wold make the listing easier. That place kicked me out…Can’t go there…that place is to far. Maybe…no, it’s a little far. But…yes…Yes. I think that’s where I’ll go.”

“Have you finally come to a decision?”

“Yeah. There’s a little no name island. It’s not far from here, but I’d have to take a boat. Lucky for me, I know someone in that business.”

“I will come with you.”

“You sure you don’t want to stay here? I’m sure Auntie will keep making you food.”

Iroh shuddered at the thought. “I am going with you.”

Wolf smiled. “Then it’s settled. We’ll leave within the week. All we have to do is pack a few things. Oh, and inform Zuko. I’ll send for Jin.”

Iroh shook his head. “You enjoy tormenting people.”

“Only some. I was Fire Nation once. It’s their job to torment people.”

Iroh shook his head again. Wolf did enjoy tormenting people too much. Unfortunately, Iroh had been the only one around for the past month and had received the brunt of most of it. Fortunately, Wolf never went for Fire Nation way of tormenting people. Sending Jin to Zuko was just Wolf’s way.

Wolf went into a back room where a bird was kept up in a cage. He muttered a couple words soothingly to the bird while writing a letter. “Hey, Iroh! How do you spell receive?”

“Sound it out.”

“I did. It looks funny.”

“You’re writing looks funny. I’m surprised any one can read it. Remember the rules.”

“Fine.” Wolf muttered. “Like I remember the rules.” Wolf spelled the word out as best as he could before finishing the rest of the letter. Satisfied, he folded it in half rolled it up. Wolf took out a string and wrapped it around the letter, then let the bird out of its cage. “Time for a little exercise.”

He tied the letter to the bird’s leg as he walked out of the room.

“What is that?” Iroh asked.

“The Fire Nation uses those falcon things, here they use carrier pigeon hawks.”

“Oh.”

Wolf opened the door. “Fly home, little bird.” The bird flew off.

“That wasn’t a little bird.”

Wolf shrugged. “I’m bigger than it is, so it is a little bird. Small enough, at least.”

……………

Jin had got Wolf’s note a day and a half later and went to meet him. He told her that they were moving and the location. He also passed on his connection’s information so that she could follow. However, she couldn’t get away that day or the next. So it was almost a week before she actually made it to see Zuko.

Jin easily snuck into the palace. She slunk around outside until she discovered where Zuko’s room was. “Ok, now for a little fun,” she muttered to herself.

She examined the wall for a moment before jumping up slightly and latching on like a lizard. Jin felt her way up the surface, digging her fingers into small cracks. She made it up to the Prince’s room with out any mishaps.

She looked around with disappointment. Zuko wasn’t in. It was a large room that could have been an entire house, like Wolf’s. There was a large bed with hangings and a fancy nightstand that held a large jug of water. Jin poked around a little and sat on the bed. She continued examining her surroundings for a while then lay back. She closed her eyes, breathing in the scents.

“Zuko smells nice,” she muttered to herself. “I can’t believe I’m in his room. I wonder if I could ever be that way with him…”

There was an image in her mind that she was referring to. She was thinking of what her mother would do. When her dad went out on missions, her mother would work during the day and at night, go to the window in their room and wait for her husband’s return. Jin felt like that’s what she was doing now, but scolded herself. “I shouldn’t think like that.”

A small glimmer caught her eye, and Jin sat up to look. There were two scimitars crossing in an x on the wall. Smiling, Jin stood and walked over to them. She ran a hand lightly up the top blade. She poked at the tassel and batted it once like a cat. “These are nice. Best metal I’ve ever seen. I wish I could use these.”

Jin debated for only a second. Carefully, she lifted the top sword from its pegs. It was a little heavier than she was used to, but surprisingly light for such a large blade. She stepped away from the wall and swung the blade in a horizontal arc. Hearing the whoosh of air pleased her. Grinning, she could imagine an enemy standing in the space. She cut an imaginary x across the chest. For the finishing blow, she raised the scimitar behind her.

Something grabbed the blade before Jin could deliver the hit. “What are you doing in my room?” a voice asked quietly.

“Prince Zuko!” Jin exclaimed, turning around to face the prince. “I was waiting for you. You do remember me, right?”

Zuko nodded.

“I’m the contact. You know, from our friend. Oh, I’m sorry. I couldn’t help but touch. They’re just so beautiful.”

Jin handed the weapon to Zuko, who walked past her to mount it back on the wall. Satisfied that the sword was going to stay, Zuko turned to look at Jin again.

“What do they want?”

“Well, Wolf is getting tired of Ba Sing Sei, so he was thinking of moving to one of his other homes for a while. He wanted me to tell you that, and maybe lead you there if you weren’t too busy.”

“Father doesn’t want me going out right now. He actually was planning on letting me attend the meeting tomorrow.”

“Oh, really? That’s so cool!” Jin exclaimed.

“Keep it down.”

“Sorry. Hm…well that’s a shame. I don’t think we could get there and be back early tomorrow. It’s kinda a long walk and then there’s a boat trip… yeah, that wont work well. Hm…Can I come back to get you after tomorrow?”

“I don’t think I need to stay here.”

“Great. I guess I’ll see you then?”

Zuko nodded. Jin walked over to the window.

“Wait, how did you get in?” Zuko asked, mildly confused. He had locked the door.

“I climbed. Don’t forget, I’m a ninja. Well, see ya!” With that, Jin hopped out the window.

……………

The move had gone quite well. The two old friends gathered some clothes and a few provisions and left quietly. Wolf’s connection had been a pain, but with a little ‘gentle persuasion’ Wolf managed to weasel a boat out of him for cheep. He navigated to a small island that was a vibrant pink in color because of the far spread cherry trees. Spring was just beginning, so the trees were in full blossom.

The house Wolf had possession of was easily three times that of the one in Ba Sing Sei. It was designed in a hut-like fashion and had three bedrooms, a decent kitchen and a proper living room. It was sparsely furnished, but the roof didn’t leak.

Wolf sat at the window in his bedroom, half-hanging out of it.

Iroh came in. “I have been looking everywhere for you. I should have known. All you do is lay about the house all day like a cat.”

“Is there something wrong with cats?”

“Isn’t there something you can be doing?” Iroh stepped closer. He noticed that Wolf was looking a little down and asked, “Is something the matter?”

“No, not really. I’m watching the cherry trees. They’re in full blossom right now.”

“Bah,” Iroh said in disgust, making a shooing hand gesture at the window.

“I take it you don’t like them.”

“They are not to my liking.”

“I see. I like them. But, they make me feel nostalgic. I don’t really know why. I hadn’t seen them before, until I came here. It was like this the first time, too. I think I’d like to die here, during this time of the year, with the blossoms falling.”

“How very depressing.”

“So that’s why…”

“’So that’s why’ what?”

“Why you don’t like them.”

“Why is that?”

“Because you think they’re depressing.”

“My son died about this time of year. A single cherry tree was falling out of season, and the blossoms were falling like rain.”

“Well, to each their own.”

“Besides, you cannot make tea out of them.”

“Ah, I think I can prove you wrong. Come, there’s something I want to show you.”

Wolf hopped the bed so that he could lead Iroh to the surprise. Wolf walked quickly out the back door of the house. He stood on the patio for a moment, picking his direction before taking off again. “It’s hard to see from above,” he muttered a quick explanation. After a quick walk he came to a small area that had a small gap in a circle around a single tree. Unlike the surrounding pink forest, this tree was pure white.

Iroh stared at the tree, eyebrows furrowed.

“A white cherry-less cherry tree. Only one of it’s kind, as far as I know. It makes an excellent tea.”

Wolf grabbed a handful of leaves and started walking away. Iroh looked a few moments longer before following. When the old general entered, Wolf was searching through cabinets for a flint.

“Do you need help?” Iroh asked.

“Not really.” Wolf continued to rummage through drawers, but came up empty handed. “Ok, yes. Could you light the fire for me?”

“What happened to your Firebending?”

“It kind of…nullified…or something. I doesn’t work sometimes. No big deal.”

Iroh lit the fire and Wolf put a teakettle on to boil.

“You know, I could have done that for you.”

“Takes all the fun out of it. And the flavor.”

Wolf set up two cups with a couple white cherry leaves and blossoms. After a few minutes, the water was boiling. Wolf filled the cups with water and put the kettle back. A strange aroma filled the air.

“This tea of yours smells very strange,” Iroh noted.

“So. Lot’s of things smell strange.”

When the cups stopped steaming, Wolf deemed they could be consumed. Wolf had no problem with his, but Iroh took one sip and set down his cup.

“This is very strange.”

“What’s wrong? Don’t like it?”

“The tea is a little to sweet and bitter at the same time.”

“Maybe a little.”

“Cherry blossoms do not make good tea.”

Wolf shrugged. “Your jealous.”

“No, cherry blossoms just do not make good tea. That is all there is to it.”

……………

……………

Chapter 7 – END

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